Sunday, February 06, 2005

Happy Birthday Gipper!

Today, on what would have been Ronald W. Reagan's 94th birthday, Michelle Malkin includes a link to a story of her first Ronald Reagan moment -- the 1982 State of the Union Address. What made it memorable for Michelle was the Lenny Skutnick story (he was the government employee who jumped into the freezing Potomac River to rescue a flight attendant from the doomed Air Florida Flight 90 that crashed into the 14th Street Bridge). It's funny -- that particular story has always been memorable for me, too. I am probably wrong about this, but it struck me at the time as the first time a President had ever introduced someone in the gallery. Even if it wasn't the first time, it was memorable (probably not least because it was so connected with the very public tragedy of the plane crash, which obviously got a lot of media attention).

Ronald Reagan and my family go back a ways -- my father was a delegate of Reagan's to the 1976 Kansas City Republican convention. He thereafter met the President-to-be in 1978 at an event in Toledo, Ohio, where a (very) candid shot was taken of the two of them talking (RWR looks like a deer in the headlights!). That photo is one of our family's most precious possessions.

We will never forget Ronald Reagan. Nor will history, which when all is said and done, will likely recognize him as one of the five greatest Presidents in Unites States history. What were his accomplishments: merely bringing down the deadliest threat to America in its 200+ year history without firing a shot and to restore a sense of dignity to the American people that had been shorn away in the tumults of the 1960s and 70s.

Happy Birthday, Mr. President!
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